PAM & TOMMY
Starring: Lily James, Sebastian Stan, Seth Rogen, Nick Offerman, and Taylor Schilling
Creator: Robert Siegel
Pam & Tommy is so much more than I expected. While it obviously covers how the sex tape fiasco came to be, it also touches on the advent of internet porn and what it means to be a female sex symbol in a male dominated world. But most importantly, it paints a humanizing, sympathetic portrait of Pamela Anderson (Lily James) that, frankly, I’m ashamed to say I never really considered when this all went down 25 years ago. It was an eye-opening viewing experience made all the more impactful by James’ (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Sebastian Stan’s) award worthy performances.
Pam & Tommy is both entertaining and tragic. While I wasn’t in love with the premiere, the second episode quickly picks up as it focuses primarily on the title couple. Sebastian Stan crushes it and Lily James’ transformation is unreal. She not only nails Pamela Anderson’s mannerisms and voice, but also the emotional burden that being a sex symbol would do to a woman. The show is so much more than just a show about a sex tape. It’s more of a deep look at what a public persona does to a person, in a way that’s also very funny.
Pam & Tommy is the absurd retelling of the insane but true story of the theft and distribution of the titular couples' sex tape. Every episode is a riot, but still plays out like a crime drama, adding depth and tension to the story. Sebastian Stan gives a wonderfully manic performance, while Seth Rogen’s more restrained offering shows off his ability to play more nuanced characters. The true star is Lily James though, who plays Pamela Anderson with incredible earnestness and humility. Needless to say, these performances coupled with fantastic direction and continuous humor make Pam & Tommy a must watch.
When the first promotional photos were released for this series, I couldn’t help but feel that Lily James was going to kill the role of Pamela Anderson, and that’s exactly what she does. She manages to portray Anderson in a manner that never feels like parody, while Sebastian Stan matches her by leaning into the chaos that is Tommy Lee. The plot can be a little disjointed at times (it has everything from an elaborate heist to a talking penis) and it feels a little long in the tooth by the end, but the performances carry this series.